This year the U.S. Department of State hosted its fifth annual Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) project competition, and two projects proposed by Mongolian teams are being granted funding. The projects, “Equal Access: Crowdsourcing a Wheelchair Map” and “Empowering Women and Girls through Entrepreneurship,” were planned by alumni of U.S. government exchange programs.
Forty-eight innovative AEIF projects of global significance were selected from 800 proposals received from countries across the globe. The project teams – who collectively represent in 43 different countries – will tackle critical issues such as access to education, women’s empowerment, climate change, and more.
The two Mongolian projects were conceived of and will be implemented by Mongolians who are passionate advocates of equal opportunity and human rights.
The goal of the “Equal Access: Crowdsourcing a Wheelchair Map” is to generate a user-friendly mapping tool that provides wheelchair accessibility information and supports the development and strengthening human rights in Mongolia. The project team wants this initiative to function as an advocacy tool for infrastructure to accommodate Mongolians with disabilities and to increase awareness, which will ultimately improve the quality of life for Mongolians with disabilities.
Winning in the AEIF Empowering Women and Girls category, “Empowering Women & Girls Through Entrepreneurship” will teach women and girls living in marginalized areas and ger districts of Ulaanbaatar about entrepreneurship. The program will give participants a better understanding of entrepreneurship and the potential opportunities available to them, helping to set them up for greater future financial stability.
The State Department created the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund in 2011 to support alumni initiatives that promote shared values and innovative solutions to global challenges. The competition provides small grants to teams of past and current participants of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs to carry out public service projects that utilize skills and knowledge they have gained through their exchange experiences.